Ensuring your own happiness

Learning to say “no”

I was recently in the car with my dad when he prompted me with, “If you could go back in time, would you have chosen a different major?” Without hesitation, I replied a solid “No.”

With the irrefutable presence of technology in our daily lives, I was admittedly surprised that he still wasn't all too pleased that I planted myself right in the middle of it. I say ‘still’ as this wasn't his first expression of doubt.

The first time had been when I was a senior in high school, deciding what I wanted to do with the next four years of my life and beyond. At the age of seventeen, refusing my parent’s wishes was a formidable thought in my mind, especially when I knew they only stemmed from wanting the best for me. They had dreams of me attending an Ivy League university and becoming a doctor. Standard of any Asian parent.

Needless to say, I did not live up to those lofty dreams. In fact, I said “No.” I had dreams of my own. I wanted to attend Carnegie Mellon University. I wanted to major in Computer Science and build Neopets (more on that on another day, perhaps, but I actually did write my college essay about the virtual pet website). Did I know what that really entailed? Of course not —what would the daughter of the owners of a Chinese takeout business know? I just figured I was in front of a computer enough hours a day, why the heck not have a legitimate excuse to be?

“Being in front of a computer” was probably not the main reason most people chose this major. It, of course, has changed, and luckily for me, goes back to my answer for my dad’s question —I would never dream of changing my decision. Was it really “luck”? I don’t think so.

I think knowing what you want, no matter how absurd the reason, is important. For my seventeen year old self, realizing that I was ultimately living my life for me, was also important. And it’s not just about knowing what you want, but also having the conviction to follow it through, despite all the doubt. Despite people questioning, “what is that? where is that?”, supplemented with “no one knows what that is.” Despite feeling you’ll be letting anyone down. Just know that by living someone else’s dream, you’ll only be letting yourself down.

Remember, when you’re happy, those who love you will also be happy. (Even if they still secretly want you to become a doctor…)

Next Story — I took 400 fitness classes in a year
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I took 400 fitness classes in a year

The other day, I casually confessed to some coworkers that I had taken 400 fitness classes through ClassPass in 2015. Yep, I doubled and even tripled up some days. A year ago, I would’ve never thought myself capable of this.

One of my coworkers asked if my life had changed by any of this. I joked that I couldn’t do a single push-up at the beginning of 2015. I mean, I really couldn’t, but one should hope that after all of this I’d be able to do at least one now. That was expected. But there was also the unexpected.

I stopped judging myself and others

I don’t know what I was on, walking into my first classes, thinking I would be able keep up with everyone. Generally, that’s not a bad attitude to have, but it was debilitating when I became angry at myself for not being able to, and especially jealous of others who could move at the perfect rhythm.

I finished my first yoga class, not being able to do a single chaturanga. I felt like I almost died at my first Barry’s Bootcamp class, where I was heaving up a 6 percent grade hill at 6mph. I silently projected my frustrations onto the barre instructor (“Who are you?! I hate this class. Your voice is annoying.”) when I couldn’t keep tapping my knees for ten more seconds in that plank.

Despite all that, I signed up for more classes. (I didn’t like them, but heck, I couldn’t give up what a great deal I was getting on them?!) I started noticing some of the same people in these classes. They had off days, they had good days. They all worked their asses off every day. These people were truly inspiring. I stopped negatively comparing myself to them. Instead of staring in envy as someone pushes up into a perfect handstand, I celebrate all of the hard work they must’ve put in to achieve that.

I severely cut down on drinking

One of my favorite things to do is 9 AM yoga on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Yoga hungover is neither fun nor rewarding. Naturally, this leads to many early Friday and Saturday evenings. My friends joke that I’ve become a grandma. Sometimes I feel guilty, like I somehow deceived the friends I used to go out with all the time.

I’m now more grateful for all the moments I have been able to share with them, and without the need for alcohol (but also thankful for all the post-yoga, mimosa-fueled brunches).

I love it

What started as a thrill of saving X dollars per class I could book (seriously, I’m the kind of person who trolls five coupon websites before buying anything, and opens nearly every “extra 50% off sale” promotional email), has evolved into the highs of finishing my first half marathon, of holding an arm balance for one breath longer, or sustaining a 60 second sprint interval at 10.5mph while the person next to me is crushing it at 12.5mph.

One of the most meaningful changes has been my attitude about working out being something I should do to something I genuinely want to do every day. As one of the fearless Barry’s Bootcamp trainers emphasized to us,

“We don’t come here for that beach body, we come here and we work hard because it’s what makes us feel alive.”
Next Story — From the Photobucket of my emo teenage years
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From the Photobucket of my emo teenage years

From cartoon dollz to Neopets graphics to Myspace layouts

Creepy cartoon dollz body parts that you could drag and drop

I-frame layouts

“Version: Beyond Redemption”

In the folder labeled ‘Cool’

“No sticky paws!”
(If you look really hard at the “copyright” credit)



The above is really supposed to look like this: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v315/mxdesign/stephanie.gif

Made in Jasc Animation Shop, starting with the full name then pasting a bunch of frames and backtracking and erasing bits.

Next Story — 27 Years, 27 Lessons
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27 Years, 27 Lessons

27 reflections on life, work, and family.

Today’s my 27th birthday. Here are 27 lessons I’ve learned in my short time on the planet :

  1. You are steeped in judgement. Work to suspend it.
  2. Thinking you have all the answers to life, faith, or work is proof you don’t.
  3. Do nothing out of fear.
  4. Anyone can do your job. Become indispensable by doing it in a way no one else can.
  5. There is no predetermined path, only the opportunity to pioneer one.
  6. Use the backdoor. There’s always a non-traditional route to where you want to be.
  7. There are no real rules- all can be bent and broken.
  8. Your 20s are for acquiring skills, apprenticing, and exploring the world, so don’t fret over finding your dream job.
  9. Find a mentor. Or two.
  10. Don’t be impressed by someone’s salary. Plenty of lifeless people with awful jobs make bank.
  11. If you can connect with someone on a personal level, you’ve won.
  12. No one is born with “people skills,” but those who perfect them are light years ahead of the game.
  13. Don’t waste your time blaming others. You’re only deceiving yourself.
  14. Get off Facebook- you will miss nothing.
  15. Avoid debt like the plague.
  16. Life’s most valuable assets are people and time.
  17. If you blow off those you love in the name of work or mission, you will sabotage both.
  18. 99% of world-changing leaders have destroyed their families in the process. Invest in your spouse and children.
  19. If you can learn to be non-reactive, you will save yourself a life of anxiety, conflict and regret.
  20. Be immediately skeptical of any article or book titled, “10 Easy Steps Towards [Anything]…”
  21. Don’t resist pain and difficulty- it’s typically the birthplace of transformation.
  22. Even the most confident people don’t really know what they’re doing.
  23. Fight to be present, but know it’s informed by the past.
  24. You only have this moment.
  25. Everything is redeemable, no mistake too great.
  26. There are no easy answers, despite pretty lists like these.
  27. “The best part about the future is it only comes one day at a time.”

(This article is directly inspired by David Kadavy’s May 4 article, found here.)

Written on August 24, 2016. Andrew Lombardi is currently working in the healthcare consulting space in Atlanta. He is profoundly interested in how technology, innovation, and ideas are shaping our future.

Next Story — 4 life lessons learnt crossing a street in Malaysia
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4 life lessons learnt crossing a street in Malaysia

Every morning, I’ve had to cross a four lane street on my way to work. Creases of my pillow case still imprinted on my cheek, I started off relatively terrified and generally unprepared to potentially fend for my life before breakfast. But as time went on, I befriended the weaving motorbikes and lorries of Malaysian traffic and even learned a few things along the way about life. Cue the metaphors.

1.Timing is everything

Picking the right moment to step off that sidewalk can be a deal breaker. Too late or too early and you’re pavement paint. Learning to recognize a window of opportunity when it drives by (4 windows per car to be exact) is key. Because the truth is; you’ll never cross the street unless you take that step.

2. Don’t hesitate

I don’t know what it is about Southeast Asian traffic, but vehicles must be equipped with ultrasonic fear sensors, because any delay in confidence when crossing is apparently an indication to accelerate. But crossing like you own that boulevard, like you were the one to put the potholes there in the first place (so don’t mess) can part traffic like the red sea. Fake it till you make it.

3. Find your crew

Spotting two or three locals about to nonchalantly stroll from one side of the street to the other is often my cue to casually stand within arms length, and move at their pace. Fully trusting the judgement of the other and adopting the “they can’t hit all of us” mentality. There’s power in numbers. Finding likeminded individuals and collaborating towards a common goal can help get you to where you need to be.

4. Don’t be hard on yourself when you discover the crosswalk

I recently mentioned my epic morning street crossing saga to a friend who pointed out the crosswalk 50 meters up the road, and “why hadn’t I just taken a 2 minute detour to the safer route?” I paused. Just as I was about to smack my palm to my forehead, I stopped and thought about how life isn’t always about taking the easiest route, as long as you get to where you’re going.

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